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Oral, Dental, and Physical Health: The Link
While caring for your teeth and gums ensures good oral plus dental hygiene, it does a lot more than that. Good dental care and oral hygiene can prevent gum disease, the decay of your teeth, and bad breath. This not only helps your teeth, and oral health, but also safeguards you from a lot of health conditions.
Scientists are now discovering fresh reasons to follow regular brushing and flossing. A healthy mouth can also prevent medical disorders. On the other hand, lack of good gum health can increase the risk of difficult health complications such as stroke, heart attack, preterm labour, and diabetes. Know the value of oral health and its contribution to your complete well-being here.
Oral Health and Your Body
Oral health is strongly connected to overall health. A peek at the mouth, or a swab can tell doctors a lot about what is happening in your body.
Chronic conditions such as HIV-AIDS or diabetic conditions become obvious as lesions in the mouth or oral problems appear. More than ninety percent (a considerable majority) of the systemical, chronic diseases produce oral symptoms and signs according to the Academy of General Dentistry.
Doctors also carry out saliva tests to assess specific stressors in newborns. Fragments of certain bone-associated proteins are also found in the saliva- these can signal conditions such as osteoporosis or bone loss. Salvia tests also reveal cancer.
Everything from medicines and drugs to ecological toxins, hormones, and antibodies including hepatitis/jaundice or HIV-type infection can be detected through saliva. Saliva testing may outperform blood testing to diagnose and monitor diabetic patients, along with diseases like Parkinson's, and liver cirrhosis as well as other infectious diseases.
Salvia also disables bacteria and viruses, It is one of the biggest defense against these pathogens and contains antibodies which attack HIV and a common cold. A protein called histatins in saliva also inhibits the growth of a commonly found fungus referred to as Candida albicans. While these proteins may be weakened by an infection, leading to oral thrush disease, most of the times, they serve as a powerful defense against diseases. Salvia also protects the body via:
- Degradation of bacterial membranes
- Stoppage of the growth and metabolization of specific bacteria
- Disrupting certain bacteria-based enzyme systems
Though saliva protects against a lot of infections, it cannot always work.
Dental Plaque and Infections
Close to five hundred species of bacteria flourish within your mouth at a certain time forming what is known as dental plaque. This is a sticky, translucent film clinging to the teeth. It causes a lot of health problems. Plaque can build along the gum line and cause a lot of problems.
If left unchecked, it can lead to gingivitis and a more serious infection called periodontitis. There is a severe form of gum infection called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or trench mouth. While bacteria from the mouth does not enter the bloodstream, too invasive forms of dental treatment can provide an entry for microbes.
Your body's normal defenses can also be reduced by medication or treatment that influences the bacteria present in the mouth. Those with a strong immune system need not worry, though. Their body is able to fend off infection.
In case the immune system is weak, however, bacteremia can cause diseases like infective endocarditis. Oral bacteria penetrate into the bloodstream and stick to the heart valve lining, in this disease.
A chronic gum infection causes loss of teeth. But it can even lead to diabetes, heart disease as well as preterm birth. Research is required to assess if oral infections can cause conditions, but most scientific studies point to a definite link for these conditions.
In case you have diabetes, you can develop gum disease. But, an interesting fact which researchers have found is that long-term gum disease may cause diabetes to become more problematic to control. Infection may cause a resistance to insulin thereby disrupting blood glucose control.
Gingivitis also causes arteries to become clogged and blood clotting in the heart. Bacteria within the mouth causes swelling and inflammation in the body. This is the basis for developing arteriosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries resulting from plaque formation. This increases the chances of heart attack and cardiovascular disorders.
The severity of infection determines the extent of the risk. Diseased gums and tooth loss are also linked to plaques within a certain artery called the carotid. A study even found a correlation between tooth loss and carotid-artery based plaque.
Certain gum diseases also raise the likelihood of preterm delivery and a low birthweight of the newborn. It is estimated close to about eighteen percent of the preterm, low birthweight babies born in the United States every year may be a result of oral infections.
Scientists have explained the precise mechanisms behind this. Oral bacteria releases toxins which access the placenta through the maternal bloodstream. This interferes with fetal development and growth.
Simultaneously, an oral infection causes the mother to induce labor causing substances too rapidly triggering premature labor and birth.
Benefits of Healthy Teeth
Taking good care of your teeth and gums makes the adage “healthy mouth, healthy you” a reality.Healthy habits learned in childhood can carry through to the older years. Here are the health benefits of good teeth and gum care.
Self Esteem and Positive Mental Health
Decayed teeth and gum disease cause bad breath to impact confidence, self-image, and self-esteem. With a healthy mouth that is free of gum disease and cavities, quality of life also improves by leaps and bounds- you eat properly, sleep well, and concentrate with no aching mouth to distract you.
Lower Risk of Heart Attacks
Chronic inflammation from gum disease is linked to heart problems, blockages of blood vessels and strokes. Findings of these studies suggest that maintaining overall health can be possible if oral health is protected.
Improves Memory and Concentration
Studies have shown that adults with gingivitis have performed worst on tests of memory and other cognitive skills. Those with healthier gums and mouths performed better on tests such as delayed verbal recall and subtraction!
Lowers Inflammation in the Body
Poor oral health has been associated with the development of infection in other body parts. Connective tissue destruction in gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis has a similar pattern. Reduce risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Brush your teeth to prevent infection and inflammation in the body.
People with uncontrolled diabetes often have poor decaying gums, and this can develop more severe problems for the patients. Blood sugar control improves with healthy gums.
Your Oral Health= Good Health
Your oral health is more important than you realise, Be clear about the facts on how teeth and gum health can affect general bodily well-being. Saliva also neutralises acids produced by bacterial pathogens in the mouth, thereby preventing microbial invasion and overgrowth.
Steps for Healthy Teeth and Gums
- Brush your teeth twice in a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Daily flossing is a must
- Eat a healthy diet and limit in-between meal snacks
- Check if your toothbrush has to be replaced; the bristles generally experience fraying
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Prevent use of tobacco
- Take care of your oral health, because if your teeth go, good health also leaves you in a lurch.